When considering whether family philanthropy is right for you, think carefully about your goals for including other family members.  Although there are other considerations, including investment, tax, and financial issues, the greatest question is whether you are ready as a family to begin working together on philanthropy.  Giving together requires energy and commitment to make the effort work.  Clarifying your motivations and goals should be your first step in establishing a structure and process that works for all of you.  Family philanthropy may be something that your family would like to explore if you are motivated to:

  • Work with other family members to make a difference in society.
  • Teach the responsibilities and opportunities of wealth-i.e., preparing children for future stewardship of your charitable assets.
  • Instill a culture of giving in the next generation.
  • Enhance your charitable giving by bringing in new energy and ideas.
  • Deepen family connections; collaborate, solve problems, and learn about critical social issues.
  • Establish and strengthen a family legacy of caring and sharing.
  • Build bridges between your family’s wealth and the outside world.

Family Philanthropy: Benefits and Opportunities

Families have discovered a variety of benefits through working together on their charitable giving.  Some feel a deepened connection from collaborating and cooperating on important social and community issues.  Others appreciate the opportunity to express and act on values that reflect the family’s strongest beliefs and interests.  Some families feel that their philanthropy creates a bond among generations, resulting in increased communication, sharing and understanding among family members of all ages.  Family philanthropy allows you to learn not only about your family members, but also about important community and social issues. It serves as forum for developing teamwork and problem solving skills within the family.  Your family’s charitable giving can nurture generosity and foster compassionate values in the next generation.


Family Philanthropy: Challenges

Involving your family in your philanthropy has many benefits, but is not without its challenges.  One common obstacle is geography.  Today’s family members are often widely separated, making group meetings difficult.  Family members are also inevitably at different stages of their lives.  While this can be a wonderfully positive factor-in terms of fresh perspectives –it can also result in a variety of distractions.  Careers, family, school, or social activity can prevent family members from devoting adequate time to the family philanthropy.  Finally, some families’ culture or dynamic is simply not conducive to working together.  If the family struggles with serious issues of parental control, independence needs, and family rivalries, a family philanthropy program may worsen the issues.  Most families, however, have the potential to truly enjoy the collaboration of giving together to issues and organizations that matter the most to them.  One of the keys to success is a good family process.

To begin developing a Family Process that works for your family, please refer to the suggested steps below.